Treatment of Colorectal Cancer

Treatment may involve a single type or a combination of types. It is important to take time to learn and understand the different treatment options available. The approach to treating colorectal cancer is contingent upon factors such as its location, size, stage, and grade. Always consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions about treatment plans.1

Types of Treatment1







Surgery is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer.1 The surgeon’s approach to surgery for colorectal cancer varies based on the cancer stage.2

For early-stage colorectal cancer, the surgeon might remove the cancerous growth or a portion of the colon’s inner lining.3

In more advanced cases, the surgeon could remove the affected part of the colon or rectum along with nearby lymph glands to ensure all cancer cells are taken out.3 Minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgery, where small incisions are used, might be done to lessen post-surgery pain and speed up recovery, but it’s not suitable for all cases.2

Chemotherapy or radiotherapy might be used before or after surgery.

Radiation Therapy

Radiotherapy employs powerful X-rays to eliminate cancer cells, aiming to spare healthy cells. It’s often used post-colorectal surgery to eliminate lingering cancer cells and prevent recurrence. Additionally, it can shrink rectal tumors prior to surgery.4


Chemotherapy employs potent drugs to destroy cancer cells. After colon surgery, it’s administered if the cancer is extensive or has spread to lymph nodes, eliminating remaining cells and reducing the chance of recurrence.

Before surgery, it can shrink large cancers to make removal easier.

For inoperable or cancers that had spread, chemotherapy can alleviate symptoms and might be combined with radiation.5


Immunotherapy employs the patient’s immune system (white blood cells) to combat cancer.5 It enhances the body’s natural defenses, both those produced naturally and those created in a lab, to bolster the immune system’s ability to locate and eliminate cancer cells. This approach can be applied to various cancer types, either as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with chemotherapy or other cancer therapies.6

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy employs drugs that target specific chemicals in cancer cells, causing them to die by blocking those chemicals. It’s often combined with chemotherapy and is commonly used for individuals dealing with advanced colon cancer.7


All images are actor portrayals only.

This is an educational website on cancer screening. This information should not be used in place of advice from your doctor or healthcare professional. For further information and advice, please contact your doctor.


1. Colorectal Cancer: Types of Treatment. Cancer.Net. May 2022. Last Accessed Aug 2023. 2. Treating Colorectal Cancer. American Cancer Society. Last Accessed Aug 2023. 3. Colorectal Cancer. SingHealth. Last Accessed Aug 2023. 4. Colorectal Cancer. SingHealth. Last Accessed December 2023. 5. Colon Cancer Treatment (PDQ®) – Patient Version. National Cancer Institute. August 2023. Last Accessed Aug 2023. 6. Understanding Immunotherapy. ASCO Answers. Cancer.Net. May 2022. Last Accessed Sep 2023. 7. Colon Cancer. Mayo Clinic. Last Accessed Sep 2023.

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